The DiGuiseppe “Drive”….. more than just a Street
by Cate Murway
Ralph DiGuiseppe, Jr. wears many hats -- one of them is a construction helmet. An idealist, a dreamer, always thinking in long term; he is able to grasp the far-reaching effects of actions and plans. He is dedicated to skill, integrity and responsibility in improving our physical environment. In The Philadelphia Inquirer, May 2005 article, Ralph DiGiuseppe, President of Bristol Borough Council, “cooperated with developers abiding by the borough's broad plan of growing the economy while retaining the historic integrity of the 1 1/2-square-mile town and increasing public access to its waterfront”. He was quoted as saying, “Not only will it jump-start Mill Street, but it will jump-start the borough." He is programmed for success through hard work, courage, determination, and concern for others, circumventing by ingenuity or stratagem any shortsighted views.
“No more backward thinkin
time for thinkin ahead
The world has changed so very much
From what it used to be”
Life long Borough residents, Ralph, Jr., BHS class of ’74, his wife, Monica [Petolillo], BHS ‘74/BCCC and their children, St. Ann students, Century 21 Alliance R.E. sales associate Ralph III, HGP ‘94/ St. Joseph University ’98 and Snyder-Girotti Elementary School teacher Jennifer, CEC ‘99/ Kutztown ‘03/ M.Ed Gratz College, Melrose Park, clearly apprehend the binding force of the active and affirmative obligations that are laid upon the rewards of success.
“The world won't get no better if we just let it be
The world won't get no better
we gotta change it yeah, just you and me.”
Both sets of Ralph’s grandparents [napletan] migrated from the largest and most prosperous city of Naples, Italy, coming through the main entry facility of Ellis Island. John & Lillian [Zuchero] Pinelli originally settled near relatives in Tullytown, and Mary & Anthony DiGuiseppe took up residence in Trenton. His parents, Lafayette Street resident, Rose [Pinelli] and the late Raphael [AKA Ralph] met at a dance in the Borough. His in-laws, Cedar Street resident Helen and the late John (Cesare) Petolillo owned “Cesare’s Italian Specialties Ristorante” [the closest thing to home cooking!] on Radcliffe Street, currently owned by their son, his brother-in-law, Donnie. He had 2 older sisters, Maria DiGuiseppe who still resides in the Borough and his late sister, Marlene Stiltner.
Family strengths, how family members interact with and treat one another, support each other, impact positively and produce caring and competent adults, are of utmost importance to the entire DiGuiseppe family. Ralph’s cohesive relationship with his dad, his “best friend” has modeled and molded his passionate sense of family. Ralph fervently shares that he “quit school at a young age and married young” and with the support of his wife, Monica, has been able to achieve the American dream of security, stability, and solidity of reputation and that their efforts are rewarded with a place in society, not domination of it.
“Cause they're the ones who's coming up and the world is in their hands
when you teach the children teach em the very best you can.”
Ralph DiGuiseppe & Son was a small contracting business, doing everything, from sheet rocking, finishing construction of interior walls and ceilings or kitchen additions to demolition – nothing was sub-contracted out. From the age of 13 or 14, his dad would put him up on the roof with a case of nails and instructions and tell him “I’ll be back”. Ralph’s skilled work has been acquired through apprenticeship and OJT!
Unknown to many, he is involved in enlightened and discriminating charity with a clear regard for the interest and welfare and the ministrations of the St. Ann Parish community, an extension of his sound moral sentiments. Holy Trinity Father James Day, Cardinal Dougherty ‘63 confided that, “There is no area in the Parish that Ralph hasn’t influenced. He is very quiet about it. He is a Godsend. He makes sure that quality work is done and he takes no money! He is a wonderful man.” His work as volunteer project manager for the last 13 years has included an interior restoration of the Church, the social hall, the Prayer Garden, the elevator, the school gymnasium and technology center and the Parish meeting room and the daily Mass chapel. Monica’s mom, in the memory of her dad, donated this chapel and it was her husband, Ralph who did all the work at no cost! Evidence is constantly accumulating that at no point can Ralph do more in his philanthropic efforts. He also brought back the St. Ann Carnival, the major part of the financial picture of the Parish. The courteous, kind, generous, and thoughtful DiGuiseppe family, along with 6 other caring families, donate complete Thanksgiving dinners for 196 families. The most meaningful compliment he can receive is to hear that he has a great family. Nothing is of any value without his family, the core of his potential and uniqueness.
“Wake up all the builders
time to build a new land
I know we can do it if we all lend a hand”
He obviously views every single individual who comes into his life as important. He personally invested his time in the Youth Athletics at Memorial Field and was involved for years in the Borough Little League as a coach, manager and President. Numerous kids played throughout their school years and even college ball. In the 20th round of the 1993 amateur draft, The Florida Marlins drafted one athlete, pitcher Bryan Matthew Ward.
Friendly, sociable Ralph has always worked. He mowed lawns, shoveled snow, fixed broken bicycles that he found and painted the refurbished ones to sell. John Petolillo gave him a broken blue bike to fix for his daughter, Monica and their friendship began, advanced to dating and then they went to their BHS prom together [not on the bike]. Their first home as newlyweds was a 1-bedroom apartment on Lafayette Street. Upgrading, the young couple invested in a “ fixer-upper” [literally, according to Monica] on Wood Street that they still own. They labored nights and weekends to renovate the 3-bedroom twin-home and they lived there for 17 years. His family was growing.
Ralph was devastated when his dad so quickly succumbed to colon cancer in 1989. He had lost his friend and his business partner and it was the most poignant loss of his life. It tested his strength and his suppleness and he had a powerful, acute emotional reaction as he experienced grief over his father's death. The business part had lost its luster and Monica wasn’t sure that “he’d ever get back into the truck”!
Fortunately, a German company, Rhein Chemie was interested in leasing a vacated building that Ralph and his father had maintained and that first big renovation job restarted his career. Sadness was still a dominant feeling but it was then that he decided, “to make this business work!” He needed to focus on action.
“The only thing we have to do is put it in our mind
Surely things will work out they do it every time.”
For 15 years, he has been building new wings, renovating rooms and offices and doing total maintenance for Bristol Township’s Dr. Joseph Ruggiero and his Self Help Movement, Inc. [Substance Abuse Services] on Southampton Road in Philadelphia in the old Byberry building. He feels indebted to him and his associate, William Crowley for giving him the account and all of their work.
He and a partner, Ernie Decaro decided to purchase their first piece of ground and built a home on Mansion Street for Helen Younglove. They proceeded to build a twin home on Wilson Avenue and continued with single homes on Coolidge Place and Radcliffe Street.
In 1994, he built his own residence on the double lot property, previously the land of a Grundy wool mill factory building, that they had owned for almost 10 years. With the assistance of architect Angelo Rago, they designed and custom planned their own home.
His solo business venture was to purchase the property on which the old wax company, Walnut Hill Enterprises, Inc. on Green Lane & Wilson Avenue had stood. Ralph developed the entire project of 14 high-end homes on his own. With his sharp business acumen, his expertise in many areas, his commitment and innate “drive”, he has successfully been able to compete and run his business effectively, ensuring quality standards in addition to timeline and budget.
Ralph and Monica have worked diligently for everything they have. He is so proud to have been able to name the street. His dad gave him “the tools” to get started and he felt “it was just fitting” to name the Street after him.
The DiGuiseppe “Drive”….. is so much more than just a Street!
[Lyrics “Wake Up Everybody” by Harold Melvin/The Blue Notes]
Ralph DiGuiseppe General Contractor
518 Lafayette Street
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American Heritage Dictionary
1.Moral or ethical strength. 2.A description of a person's attributes, traits, or abilities.
December 08, 2009
DiGuiseppe III named board president
By: JOAN HELLYER Bucks County Courier Times
He said he will seek the advice of his father, borough council President Ralph DiGuiseppe, about how to handle "being in the political eye."
The Bristol school board on Monday night voted 8-0 to appoint Ralph DiGuiseppe III as its new president during the governing body's reorganization meeting.
The appointment came moments after DiGuiseppe, son of borough council President Ralph DiGuiseppe, was sworn in as a school board member.
He was picked to run the board over four veteran members who each have more than a decade of experience on the governing body, as well as former Bristol Mayor Gary A. Tosti and outgoing Bristol Mayor Joseph A. Saxton. Tosti and Saxton also were sworn in as school directors Monday night.
"He has the best qualities," said board Vice President Mary Jane Paglione after the meeting. "He has a college education in finance. I think he will do a very good job as board president."
DiGuiseppe III said the appointment means his fellow board members have confidence in him.
"They believe I am the best one to lead this group and change things to move in a positive direction," he said.
DiGuiseppe III said he will seek his father's advice about how to handle "being in the political eye" while serving as the board president.
In addition to DiGuiseppe, Tosti and Saxton, Beverly Breslin Kalinowski also was sworn-in Monday night. Incumbent John D'Angelo, who won another four-year term during the November election, did not attend the reorganization meeting.
Once the officers were appointed, the board agreed to move its meeting times up 90 minutes to begin at 6 p.m. on the first and third Thursdays of the month. The next session is set for Jan. 7, the board president said.
The school board meetings will remain in the district's administration building for now, DiGuiseppe said, unless the board decides to take his father up on the offer he extended earlier this year to televise the meetings with broadcast equipment in council chambers.